Keep Calcium in your Bones, not in your Arteries

  • By Healthy Living Liberty Lake
  • 09 Aug, 2016
One of the many things that deteriorate as we age is the health of our skeleton. Having healthy and strong bones is imperative to standing upright, moving freely, and being free of pain. I have so many patients who suffer from chronic pain from their vertebral compression fractures, stooped over, or never quite recover from a hip fracture after a fall.
As we age, we tend to lose minerals and calcium in our bones. Women, especially, after menopause when we lose our protective estrogen, and men as they age and their testosterone declines. But I've seen low bone density in women in their 40's, before menopause, often relating to a poor diet when younger, or taking prednisone.
How do we strengthen our bones?  

Everyone thinks the answer is simple - take calcium! But they would be incorrect. As often, the calcium supplement you take is, instead of making it's way to the bones to activate the osteoblasts (bone forming cells), they line your arteries, causing hardening of the arteries. The most commonly sold form of calcium is calcium carbonate, which is very poorly absorbed in the bone. Brand names for calcium carbonate include Maalox TUMS, Rolaids, Caltate 600, Os-Cal 500, and Mylanta. Citrate, lactate or hydroxyapatite are a much better form.

As you can imagine, your arteries are no place for bone cells! You don't want stiff, hard arteries, but flexible ones that allow for easy circulation.  
There are critical nutrients needed to increase the calcification of your arteries. These nutrients are vitamin K and D.
Vitamin D deficiency is so common in this area of the country, it's rare when I find a patient with optimal levels. I routinely take 5000 units in the summer, 10,000 units per day in the winter. And to be well absorbed, D should be taken with fat or oil - I take mine with my fish oil - and it should be D3, not D2. The prescription D that is sometimes prescribed at 50,000 units per week, is D2 and not as effective as taking D3. Optimal levels are between 70-90; a minimum of 40 is required for bone health.  
Vt D has many other health effects, including boosting the immune system, reducing heart disease, and is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. In one study, researchers looked at patients who had low vt D levels, but no indicators of heart disease. They found that the patients' flow-mediated dilation in their arteries, an indicator of arterial health, improved significantly after just 3 months of monthly injections of 300,000 IU of vt D3.

Vt K is critical to help calcium and phosphorus bind together new bone. It's also important for cardiovascular disease reduction - a study of nearly 5000 showed that those with the highest vt K2 intakes were 57% less likely to die from heart disease over the course of 7-10 years than those in the lowest third.  

It's very common for older adults to be deficient in vt K, particularly because our bodies don't store this nutrient. We have to eat it! You can get it in supplement form, but eat plenty of leafy green vegetables, broccoli, kale, spinach, and brussel sprouts.
Also, don't forget the importance of magnesium, boron, B12 and phosphorus for bone health. A deficiency of any one of these can contribute to osteoporosis as well.
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 18 Jul, 2017
We've all heard the advice to drink more water. 8 glasses a day, to be precise. Whether you're thirsty or not, it's good for you. I've always doubted this advice since it had no sound reasoning behind it, other than "detoxification". But now, a new study done by the University of Melbourne casts doubt on this advise.

Many who advocate drinking eight glasses or more of water daily are not aware of the potentially fatal side effect of water intoxication.  We are fortunate in that we have a mechanism to regulate fluid intake to keep us from over-drinking. The study showed for the first time that the brain activates a "swallowing inhibition" when excess liquid is consumed.
Participants in the study had to rate the amount of effort that was required to swallow water following exercise when they were thirsty, and then later when they were persuaded to drink an excessive amount of water. There was a 3-fold increase in the swallowing effort after over-drinking, which validated that the swallowing reflex is inhibited when enough water has been consumed.

MRI was used to record the activity in different areas of the brain involved with swallowing. The prefrontal areas made more active when the participants attempted to swallow with a great effort, meaning that the frontal cortex steps in to override the swallowing inhibition, in order to avoid water intoxication.  

Intoxication occurs when levels of sodium in the blood become abnormally low, which can cause symptoms of lethargy, confusion, nausea, convulsions and coma. In my 25 years of practice, I've had 2 patients die from excessively drinking water, causing sodium to be very low, which caused brain swelling. There have even been incidences where athletes in marathons were advised to fill up with water and then died, because they followed those incorrect recommendations and drank far in access of their actual need.

The researchers advocated doing what our bodies demand, stating that we should just drink according to our thirst, not a deliberate schedule.  We should trust in our "swallowing inhibition" that the brain activates if excess liquid is consumed.  The  brain helps maintain tightly calibrated volumes of water in our bodies. Do drink when you're thirsty. And remember on hot summer days, like we have now, you'll need to drink more to stay hydrated. Even more so with exercise.  

But don't drink water just b/c someone told you should drink at least 8 glasses a day .   Drink when you're thirsty, and you'll be fine.
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 07 Jul, 2017
Everyone's ideas of happiness is different, but there is one thing we all have in common.  Serotonin- the critical neurotransmitter needed to boost mood.  People with low serotonin levels are often depressed, pessimistic, and generally not pleasant to be around.  Serotonin is called the "happy hormone", but also has other health benefits which make us healthy at the same time.

10 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Serotonin Levels:

1. Eat animal protein.  An amino acid called tryptophan helps produce serotonin, and animal protein is the best source. Tryptophan is especially high in chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beef and dairy. Whey and egg protein are scientifically proven to increase this amino acid in the brain.
2. Sunshine - natural light has a positive effect on mood, and triggers serotonin synthesis.  The brighter the sunlight, the more serotonin the body produces.  This could explain feeling down in the winter or on rainy dark days.
3. Vitamin D - helps convert tryptophan into serotonin.   Here, we need to supplement as we rarely get enough UV rays  to make enough.  You'll typically need between 2000 IU - 10,000 IU daily.
4. Omega 3's - help boost serotonin production in the brain.   Need 2000-4000mg daily.
5. Eat Curry - curry has turmeric, which is considered a potent anti-depressant.   Helps to increase serotonin in the brain, while reducing inflammation.
6.Caffeine - this has a positive effect on levels of serotonin in the brain, which is good news for most of us.   Don't overdo, however.
7. Exercise - has been shown to increase serotonin levels because motor neurons activated during physical activity boost the release of serotonin.  Regular exercise will spike tryptophan levels in the brain.
8. Massage - proven to reduce cortisol and increase happy hormones by as much as 28%.  Plus it feels great.
9. Nuts - contain tryptophan, so the more you eat, the happier you'll be.  They also have numerous other health benefits, such as decreasing inflammation, helping to prevent heart disease, cancer and respiratory ailments.
10. Green tea - contains L-theanine, an amino acid that boosts serotonin levels.   It also has a powerful antioxidant that prevents brain damage.

There you go, this is a good place to start, especially if you've been feeling down lately.   B vitamins may also help, but if none of this is enough, then see your doctor.
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 14 Jun, 2017
Have you ever heard of Hashimoto's?  It's a common cause of low thyroid, or hypothyroidism. It's an auto-immune disease, which means the body is making antibodies against the thyroid and destroying it.

To diagnose, a blood test for thyroid antibodies must be done. Like all auto-immune diseases, it is much more common in women than men.
With Hashimoto's, blood levels often show an elevated TSH, and a low T3.  T3 is the active form of thyroid, and when the Free T3 is less than 3, expect fatigue as a common complaint.  

The conventional treatment of Hashimoto's is to prescribe a synthetic T4 , such as synthroid or levothyroxine.  This is not optimal, however, as often the T3 remains low.  And, in a review of patients on levothyroxine, long-term use was related to cardiac dysfunction, left ventricular hypertrophy (or heart failure) and rapid bone loss. Therefore, I typically will prescribe a T3/T4 combination, such as Armour or Nature Thyroid.
However, the goal is to reduce the antibody levels. To do this I recommend a supplement such as Thyrotrophin PMG made by Standard Process.   It must be taken three times a day and can act as a decoy, allowing the antibodies to attack it rather than the thyroid itself.
Now there is another option which has great promise.

Researchers looked at 40 men and women with Hashimoto's.  Half got placebo, and half got black cumin seed for 8 weeks.  Levels of T3, TSH and thyroid antibodies were measured before and after, and also the person's body composition.
What did they find?  "treatment with black cumin seed significantly reduced body weight and BMI. TSH and thyroid antibodies decreased, while T3 levels increased in those taking black cumin.  Those on placebo had no difference in their levels."

Every single measurement of Hashimotot's disease improved with this herb!  TSH improved 50%.  T3 levels improved 15%.  And antibodies decreased 50%.  All without side effects.

You can buy black cumin at any health food store or online - if you have Hashimoto's, give this a try.  
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